“Rejoice Always”: Hope, 4 Years On

Friends and Readers,

Thank you for spending your time today, reading this blog, and praying for the many people it advocates for.

For obvious reasons, today is a sad and solemn day. For those of you who do not know, as of today, it has been four years since the Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. 276 innocent young women were kidnapped and condemned for simply going to a school that was deemed “sinful” by Boko Haram (their name in Hausa, the local language in Northern Nigeria, means “Western Education is sinful.”)

Over these past four years, approximately 164 of the young women were either freed through negotiations, or made their way out themselves. This is a cause for beautiful celebration. Continue reading

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The Chibok Schoolgirl Kidnapping: 4 Years Later

Almost four years ago, I was grieved like never before for the plight of 276 schoolgirls from Northern Nigeria.

In an online devotional, I came across women who were praying mightily and fervently for the release of these girls—and I have been praying ever since.

Over the past four years, much has changed. Nigeria has gotten a new president; the Nigerian government has fought Boko Haram with noticeable success. But, for 112 of the kidnapped Chibok girls, and their friends and families, little to nothing has changed. Continue reading

“Hope, Again & Again”: A Poem

On Good Friday– March 30th, 2018– it was reported by Vanguard that four suicide bombers in the villages of Malumti, and Muna Zawiya, Nigeria, bombed a checkpoint. The blast killed three civilians and injured anywhere from 13-18 innocent people. Four Boko Haram members were also killed by Nigerian soldiers in these villages, according to Vanguard.

Indeed, the fact that Christ has Risen is something that is infuriating those who are apart of Boko Haram– and the enemy that is truly guiding them (satan).

It’s hard to see and hear of these attacks. It is heartwrenching.
Yet, when the attack of the enemy comes, we know who wins.

It is with this in mind that I wrote this poem, speaking to those who have been personally affected by these tragedies, as well as those who see it happen in the news, day after day. I pray it is encouraging, and blesses your relationship with Christ. Continue reading

DAPCHI GIRLS FREED!!!

As of this morning (3/21/2018), the Nigerian government reported that at least 104 of the 110 kidnapped school girls from Dapchi, Nigeria were FREED by Boko Haram, who dropped them off in the middle of their town early Wednesday morning!!!

The Nigerian government reported that no negotiations were made with the Nigerian government, and that the girls, and one boy who somehow was in the mix of girls, were released with a warning to not “…take your girls to that school again if you don’t want us to kidnap them again.” More on this to come!

Praise Jesus for this amazing development!!!

Dear Lord Jesus,
We praise You and we thank You for working in the lives of these girls, and for setting them free! Thank You for always working in our lives, even when it seems like something is hopeless. We rejoice in You, Jesus, and in these beautiful girls! We pray now that you would bring the rest of the Chibok girls– and the few Dapchi girls remaining– back home.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen! 🙂

People Set Free!!!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…
(Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

I am happy to report that on February 10th, 2017, two professors and one person who was a driver for the University of Maiduguri were released from Boko Haram captivity, as well as ten women who were taken captive by Boko Haram in July of 2017!!!

I can only imagine it… the taste of freedom, breathing the air with free lungs– looking up at the sun and moon and knowing that you– at least, not physically– are no longer in a place of darkness and fear.

It is always beautiful, good news to hear that someone has been set free. It is a sigh of relief, a smile on the face; sweet tears streaming down the cheeks, and a heart bursting with Joy.

Friends, on the eve of Valentine’s Day 2018, this is what happened to me. Weighed down with a seemingly unexplained heaviness, full of anger and a pride that said “I deserve God’s Love and Acceptance because I’m doing x, y, and z,” I went to a Bible study from Lysa TerKeurst about how Jesus is the Water of Life. About how He decided to go into “enemy terrority”– as God, becoming human flesh, and then as a Jew, heading into Samaria (the land of the Jew’s enemies, the Samaritans), just so that He could tell one woman that He was the One her heart had been waiting for (John 4). How did I come out of this Bible study? Filled with the sense that Jesus, just as He spoke to this unloved woman, wanted to speak to me.

I realized things about myself that were hidden deep— things I had not thought about or let myself feel for years. Through tears, cries, and a profound leading of the Holy Spirit, the lies that had caused my heart to grow cold with fear and legalism were replaced with Truth: that I am not under Jesus’ wrath. That the deep pain my own sin caused years ago was nailed to the cross at Calvary. That I am free.

And so I write this today, looking at the physical freedom these people have– and am truly blessed to know that our God delights in setting people free. 

As the wonderful Lysa Terkeurst has said, “[Jesus] is a God who knows women, and who knows trauma.” And as I look at this blog, I see this as a Truth that has been proven time and time again! He is our Rescuer, a God of Order, compassionately passionate about each and every person who has ever lived. And He reaches out to each and every one of us.

As we celebrate the fact that 13 people were set free from the violent, bounding, fearful captivity of Boko Haram– and the dead religious system it belongs to, let us not also forget those who still need to become free: the remaining 112 young women, held captive for simply going to school. 

It has been reported that these Chibok girls are being negotiated for, and this shred of seemingly solid, trusty news fills my heart with a ray of Hope– a ray of Hope that not all is lost, that maybe not everything (like the video from Boko Haram) is what it seems, and most of all, that Jesus– this God who sets people free– is above it all. I have no idea of what He’s doing, or how He’s doing it. All I know is that HE IS. 

And no matter what happens– through the Joy, or through the pain– I know who He is, and I trust Him; and that is all I need to know.

I leave you with this question: Where are you in your relationship with Jesus? Where have you kept the Lord out of, for way too long? He will shed His Light upon it. But it is not to shame you; it is to free you. Invite Him in, today; rest in the Truth that you are set free.

set free.jpg

This blog post is dedicated to the 17 people senselessly killed by a mass school shooter in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, 2018. May Jesus be with these people and guide the country forward.



Do you know Jesus?

Around 2,000 years ago, Jesus stepped down from a perfect, painless existence in heaven, enjoying unhindered fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, to live in a sin-filled, wicked world, and to die in the most excruciating way possible. The crazy part of all of this? Jesus, God in human flesh, did it FREELY– He had all of the freedom in the world, and yet He CHOSE to die, under the wrath and punishment of God, and bearing every mistake and sin we have ever made (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:6; Hebrews 10:8-9).

For you. For me. Personally.

So that we would never have to.

Because He Loves you

Learn more about this wonderful God, His Love for you, and what it all means, here.


Prayer Requests (print out a “Prayer Points” sheet here):

  • Praise Jesus for the AMAZING work He is doing– the work that we can see, and the work that we can’t see!
  • Please pray for all of the Chibok girls; that Jesus would help those who are still reeling from being taken out of captivity, and for those who are still in captivity.
  • That Jesus would FREE those who are stuck in darkness– that all those in Northeast Nigeria, including even Boko Haram, would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
  • That those affected by the evil mass shooting that occurred on February 14th, 2018 would come to know Jesus Christ through it– and that Jesus would lead our leaders to make wise decisions to protect people from a tragedy like this.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
(Colossians 1:13-14, NLT)

Thank you for your prayers!!!

Changes Are a Comin’

Hey friends!

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
(Matthew 6:5-15, NKJV)

“It’s not about the eloquent words– but about the prayer itself.”

This is something Jesus has been teaching me, as of late– especially regarding this blog. A few days ago, as I sat with Him in the quiet, my focus concerning this blog was re-oriented; and with it, Jesus gave me some great ideas to initiate here on ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY.

He led me to focus more on this blog’s purpose, in the beginning, and to really go after it (as taken from the blog’s “About” page):
1) To continue to pray for the girls’ safe release from these Boko Haram camps,
2) To continue to be updated/ update others on the state of this situation, the church of Nigeria, and Nigeria as a whole,
and 3) To, as Isaiah 62:6-7 states, advocate for the Chibok girls, as well as to encourage world-wide prayer for the state of Nigeria, the Church of Nigeria, and all of Nigeria’s kidnappees so that other believers may “have no rest, and give the Lord no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the Earth.”

Because of this, I have decided I wanted to start these things:

  1. More prayer-focused resources for you, the reader. Instead of just writing about the Chibok girls, Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram, displaced peoples, those fighting Boko Haram, etc., I want to help you, the reader, have a more precise, straightforward, practical aid in praying for all the topics mentioned above. Part of this includes “Prayer Points” with each post: printable PDFs or Word Documents regarding the different prayer requests brought up in each blog post, so that you can be aided in praying for the things mentioned, as you are led. This could also include different resource pages, as well as updating and improving current resource pages (like The Names & Pictures). These printable “prayer points” could be done weekly, but I am not sure about that yet, as things like that can easily become legalistic for me.
  2. More posts just focused on the Chibok girls and their situation. News about them can be written about more frequently, like the fact that many Chibok girls are now going to school! I would like to write more about them explicitly, and ask prayer for them in a more detailed manner.
  3. I have edited/polished the “Do You Know Jesus?” Page. I wanted to keep this more up to date, reading as excellently as possible (and prayerfully, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing people to Jesus!).
  4. I have decided that I want the month of March to be especially dedicated to praying for the Chibok girls. More details about this, soon.
  5. I want to further encourage prayer for the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls specifically, so I will be posting a page/post on a group of Chibok girls readers can pray for, weekly.
  6. To let my local community know more about the Chibok schoolgirls, and to encourage prayer and advocacy for them, I may try to put together an art show for the art I have created that surrounds them. We will see; I would need lots of help, but I want to make good on this! 🙂
    contact final

    A portion of a piece of art I have created, Untitled, concerning the Chibok girls, and stating Bible Verses Christ has given me about their release.

    7. may change the blog’s overall theme! I am not 100% on this yet, but it’s an idea.

 

What do you guys think of these changes? Readers, I need your help!!! Do you have any other ideas for this blog? Any compliments/constructive criticism about it?? I’d love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for your prayers, and for reading what my silly heart and mind have to say! I love and appreciate you all! 🙂

More Than an Afterthought | The Stories of 7 Chibok Girls

It’s been 1331 days since the Chibok school girls were kidnapped.

1331 days ago, 276 school girls, on the precipice of going onto higher education, were kidnapped, stolen instead of supplies (source).

But for all this, these young women– 113 freed, and 163 still within Boko Haram’s clutches– are more than numbers. They are more than percentages, more than statistics, and more than a headline in a news story. They can be these things (being quote more than numbersaware of the numbers and statistics and news stories is not wrong), but they are more than these things.

Think of all of the numbers, all of the statistics, you are apart of. Perhaps an illness makes you a statistic. Or a job, or an interest, or a life experience. Even just who you are can label you, and make you a number to be calculated.

But to Jesus, you are more than a number. You are more than an afterthought. To Jesus, you– and each and every one of these kidnapped girls– are deeply and perfectly Loved.

I deeply believe that these wonderful girls’ stories deserve to be told– making them more than just a number, and celebrating their lives as a testament to Jesus’ Love and creativity in making them. While one cannot relay the stories of each and every one of these girls, I have strived to learn what I can about some of these different girls, sharing just a little bit of their story here with you as a resource for prayer.



 

lydia final 1Lydia Pogu: Lydia is also one of the Chibok girls who were able to become free, by jumping from a moving vehicle of Boko Haram’s soon after she was kidnapped. After running away from Boko Haram, Lydia was reached out to by the Jubilee Campaign centered in Virginia, which connected them to Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Virginia, in 2014. Lydia later attended Canyonville Christian Academy in 2016, where the US Government covered her full tuition to the private Christian academy (source). She planned to go to Southeastern University in Florida this past fall; I assume that is where she currently is. Lydia was able to meet US President Donald Trump on June 27th, 2017, along with her friend and fellow “Chibok girl,” Joy Bishara. You can see the picture, here. According to People Magazine, Lydia would like to become a lawyer, to help those who have no voice (source).

Sa'aSa’a: Sa’a (a pseudonym she uses for her safety) spoke to NPR almost a year ago about her story, how she got free, and what she is doing now. Now most likely 21 years old, Sa’a jumped from another moving vehicle of Boko Haram’s, along with her friend. After both her and her friend got help from a nearby shepherd, they were taken back to their families. US Congressman Christ Smith came to Nigeria to learn about what happened; after hearing Sa’a’s friend’s story, Smith told Sa’a’s friend that she should come to America to study, because she was not safe to study in the area where she currently was. Sa’a’s friend did not want to study abroad without her; and while Sa’a was terrified of going back to school at first, she decided to go with her friend, after being encouraged to study in the USA. She had planned to start college in January of 2017, and I assume that is where she is at, now. She told NPR that she wants to study medicine.

lugwaLugwa Sanda: Lugwa Sanda was one of the 21 girls who were initially freed in a high-up negotiation, that took place in October of 2016. She was brought by the Nigerian government to the Women Development Center, by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, to be rehabilitated and re-integrated into society. When told that she, and others, were going to go to Abti Academy– a school close to where Boko Haram has recently staged attacks– Lugwa protested by trying to take her own life. She drank a huge amount of a household chemical named Jik during the night. Although she suffered damage to her bodily organs, Lugwa is still alive, and was taken to the hospital belonging to the Deparment of Security Services in Abuja, Nigeria (source). Upon researching how she is doing now, I have yet to find anything. If any details emerge, I will try to keep you updated.

rebeccaRebecca Mallum: Rebecca Mallum is one of the 21 Chibok girls who were freed on October 13th, 2016. Rebecca, a Christian young woman, was/is also apart of the same rehabilitation/re-integration program that Lugwa is currently apart of. Last Christmas, Rebecca Mallum was able to see her loved ones, and told CNN that she feels both “beautiful and grateful” for being able to be free, and for being able to see her family, once again (source).

debbie 2Debbie: Although her last name has not been made public, Debbie was one of the 57 Chibok girls who ran away from Boko Haram early on in the Chibok school girls’ kidnapping. After becoming free, Debbie was sponsored by a charity program in Nigeria to go to a prestigious, American International high school in Washington D.C. She went with her friend and fellow Chibok girl, who goes by the name of Grace. Debbie spent her junior and senior years of high school there, and Debbie graduated from her prestigious international high school in the summer of 2017.

graceGrace: Grace was also one of the 57 Chibok school girls who fled from their captors soon after their kidnapping. Along with Debbie, Grace attended a prestigious, American International high school in Washington, D.C. for her junior and senior (11th and 12th grade) years. She graduated from this high school in the summer of 2017, as well, and gained recognition for being “The Most Hardworking Student” in her English as a Second Language Class, Reading Level 3 (source).

joyJoy Bishara: Much like Lydia Pogu, Joy Bishara also fled Boko Haram by jumping off of a moving vehicle. She was also able to go to school in the US with Lydia, through help from the Jubilee Campaign. She attended both a school in Grundy, Virginia, as well as a Canyonville Christian Academy in 2016, from which she graduated high school. She is now going to Southeastern University to study for becoming a doctor. “What I want to do is save lives,” she told People Magazine, here.



Luke 1:49 says, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.”

“for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.”
(Luke 1:49, NIV)

Researching each of these amazing young women’s stories filled me with awe, wonder, and tears of both joy and pain for them. My heart wrenches for young women like Lugwa Sanda, who are still reeling in deep fear and PTSD from their past experience with Boko Haram, wanting never to re-live that horrific tragedy, again. While there is no doubt that each of these young women have a lot of healing ahead of them, it has been absolutely crazy to me that Jesus has sustained them to live another day, even after all that has happened to them. It encourages me to pray for them– and to see the ways Jesus is restoring me and moving in my own life. I pray it has done the same for you.

Please continue praying for these young women, and please pray for the 269 other Chibok girls whose stories I have yet to know and tell here, on this blog. After all, “Our God is an awesome God,” and He can, most certainly, do anything.



Do you know Jesus?

You are not an afterthought to Jesus. In fact, you were the reason He came down to earth.

Christ knows your story. I’d even venture to say He knows it better than you do. Christ did not just die for the whole of humanity; He died for you, personally.
Whether you know Him personally right now or not, His Perfect Love for you remains the same, and He longs to have a relationship with you that is both close and personal, a relationship that brings Him Glory, and you wholeness.

Jesus Loves you perfectly, deeply, and uniquely– and He proved it on the cross. Learn more about what Jesus did– and how much He Loves you– here.



Please pray for…

  • Debbie. Please pray for the season of life she is in right now; that she would make Jesus her Lord and Savior, and follow Him where He leads her. Pray she would experience Jesus’ Love and Healing in her, and her family’s, lives.
  • Grace (the girl spoken about in this post). Please pray that she would draw near to Jesus, and would let Him heal the places within her and her family’s hearts, minds, and souls that are seemingly irreparably broken.
  • Lydia Pogu. Please pray that she would know Jesus, and that He would light her heart on fire for loving those around her, by sharing the Gospel. Pray for blessings in her studies, and for wholeness for her and her family.
  • Joy Bishara. Please pray that she, too, would follow Jesus, and that He would use her to save the lives of many others, as she has said she desires. Please pray for her studies at Southeastern University, and that Jesus would help her and her family through any problems she is experiencing.
  • Lugwa Sanda. After trying to take her own life, please pray for Lugwa Sanda’s healing and wholeness– mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Pray that Jesus would conquer the darkness and demons trying to pull Lugwa down, and that He would use her mightily for His Kingdom. Pray she and her family would be blessed with Love, Courage, and Support from those around her, as she continues to heal and recover.
  • Rebecca Mallum. Please pray that she continues to heal, and is able to continue to see and be with her family and loved ones. May Jesus bless this beautiful young lady, inside and out!
  • Sa’a. That Sa’a would come to know Jesus, and that her dreams of helping others by studying medicine would be able to be fulfilled, if He wills for that to happen. Please pray for her  and her family’s own healing, as well.
  • For the rest of the Chibok girls, in all. Pray that those in captivity would be free, soon; and that those free would find the freedom, healing, and courage to share their own stories, as these seven girls have.

May these girls never stop dreaming.
Thank you for your prayers!!!